How Does A Bike Move?

A bike move with the help of a chain drive mechanism that propels it forward when body force is applied on the pedals. Two sprockets are connected with the chain, the driving sprocket which is connected to the pedals, and the driven sprocket which is assembled with the back wheel, where the chain is connected as a medium for power transmission.

Cycling has become a popular sport that combines exercise and the ability to get from one place to another much faster than using your own two legs. Bicycles are used by millions of people globally for diverse reasons; to work out, commute, deliver packages, compete in races, or just ride for fun. Riding a bike might seem easy to some, but it’s actually very complex. Both the rider and the bike play an important role in the process, which is really more of a science than an art. 

When body force is applied on the pedal in a clockwise direction, the bike will move in a forward direction. The force used by pedaling enables the gears of a bike to spin the back wheel. As the back wheel rotates, the tire uses friction to grip the area and move the bike in the desired direction. As a matter of fact, the speed at which bike moves is solely dependent on the pace at which the body force is applied on it. The bike makes great use of the most powerful muscles in our body.

Bikes convert the energy produced by our bodies into kinetic energy, thereby harnessing the power from your muscles in an astonishingly effective way. Kinetic energy is “a property of a moving object or particle and depends not only on its motion but also on its mass” (Encyclopedia Britannica). A bike can change up to 90 percent of a person’s energy and movement into kinetic energy. This energy is then used to move the bike. The rider’s balance and momentum help keep the bike stable while traveling along a path.

What’s so amazing about a bike is that it gets you to places quickly without gobbling up fossil fuels like gasoline, diesel, and coal or creating pollution. There are various components that combines effectively and efficiently such as your body energy, pedals, crank, gear wheel, chain, chain gear, chain stay, rear wheel hub, brakes, etc. to ensure that you move your bike whenever you want to move it as highlighted below;

Your Energy – How Does It Work To Move A Bike

In scientific terms, the bike is described as a human-powered machine. It is regarded as a machine because it is a device that has the ability to magnify force (making it easier to climb a hill) or increase acceleration. It’s also a machine in the sense that it converts energy from one form (whatever you had to eat) into another (the kinetic energy your body and bicycle have as they speed along). Biking is in consonance with a law of physics called the conservation of energy, which states that “you can’t create energy out of thin air or make it vanish without trace”: all you can possibly do is convert it from one form to another. We can conclude that the energy released by the body during cycling goes into “doing work”— but what does that mean in the science of cycling?

It simply means that cycling is energy draining and can sometimes feel like hard work, especially if you’re going uphill. In the world of cycling, “hard work” means that you sometimes have to use quite a lot of force to pedal any distance. If you’re going uphill, you need to work against the force of gravity. If you’re going fast, you’re working against the force of air resistance (drag) pushing against your body. Sometimes there are bumps in the road you have to ride over; that takes more force and uses energy too (bumps reduce your kinetic energy by reducing your speed).

For a racing bike traveling fast, about 80 percent of the work the rider does will go in overcoming air resistance, while the remainder will be used to battle rolling resistance; for a mountain biker going much more slowly over rough terrain, 80 percent of their energy goes in rolling resistance and only 20 percent is lost to drag. There are also small frictional losses in things like the chain and gears, but, however and whatever you’re riding, as long as it’s reasonably well sustained, the energy lost this way is usually not worth worrying about.

Whether you’re going uphill or downhill, fast or slow, on a smooth road or a bumpy one, the basic work you always have to do is simply to make your wheels go around. When a wheel rests on the ground, supporting a load such as the rider on a bike, the tire wrapped around it is squashed up in some places and bulging out in others. It’s much easier to generate large amounts of power for long periods of time by using your big leg muscles than by using your hands and arms. That’s why bikes are so smart: they make good use of the most powerful muscles in our body.

How The Bike Pedals Work

The pedals which is generally referred to as the start of everything, work along with the rotational force of your feet. As you push the pedals forward, they turn the gears that are attached to a chain. The chain then turns another set of gears at the rear wheel to get it turning and propel the bicycle forward. There is a popular claim which states that “without pedals, a bicycle is practically useless”. The only way to get your bicycle to move forward is to use your feet to push the pedals. 

This makes cycling a great form of exercise and a lot of fun. If you watch the process of how the other parts move in response while the pedals are moving, you will find that it all works smoothly together. The bicycle has been compelled to change its state of motion by the external force of air resistance and friction between the pedal and the chain to the wheel, you give an entire machine the ability to move forward and take you wherever you want to go.

Bicycle pedals have threading on them that screws them into the crank. The way they are threaded can be a little confusing, though. That’s because the right pedal is threaded in the normal fashion, but the left pedal is threaded in reverse. The reason they are threaded this way is because of a process known as precession. It is an extremely technical process that has to do with the rotation of a round part in a round hole and the way it moves because of the clearance between them.

It is a very complicated phenomenon that is difficult to explain and understand. All you need to know is that it is the reason the left pedal is threaded in the opposite way. Otherwise, your left pedal would unscrew itself while you ride, which no one wants to happen. The pedals on a bicycle are what give it power. Without pedals, a cyclist wouldn’t be able to go anywhere. They are a small but essential piece of a bicycle that do an incredibly important job. Pedals work along with a few other parts to get your bicycle moving. There are no covers or sheet metal hiding any of the working parts that propel you down the road — on a bicycle, they are all in the open for you to see.

How The Other Components Attached To The Pedals To Make It Work


The pedal attaches to a crank which helps give it that rotation. The opposite end of the crank is attached to the chainstay. The crank is opposite on either side. While one side of the crank is up, the other side is down.


The chain is a set of links that fit perfectly onto the two different gears that help the pedal turn the wheel. It is what connects everything so that the power generated through the pedals can be carried to the wheel. It can also sometimes be moved from gear to gear depending on road conditions.

Chain Gear 

This gear sits in between the pedals. It is usually several different gears that the chain can move between. The pedal rotates this gear, which moves the chain so that it can move the gear wheel.

Gear Wheel 

At the other end of the looped chain is the gear wheel, which is located at the center of the rear wheel. When the pedal is moved, it spins the chain gear, which moves the chain so that the gear wheel moves. All of this causes the wheel to spin.

Chain Stay  

The chainstay is a solid, unmoving piece of the bicycle. It is a metal tube that connects the crank and pedal to the rear wheel hub in order to keep everything lined up and in place.

Rear Wheel Hub 

The piece at the center of the rear wheel that is connected to the chainstay. This holds the rear wheel in place while it spins around its axel.

How The Different Types Of Bike Pedals Determine How A Bike Moves

Depending on the need, budget or preference you have as a bike enthusiast, beginner biker, or even a pro, we want to let you know that there are a few different kinds of bicycle pedals that a cyclist can have on their bike. They all serve the same purpose but are made and shaped a bit differently from one another and sometimes affects the movement of your bike.

Platform Pedals

This category covers the plain pedal, or a flat pedal, that relies on only the placement of the cyclist’s foot to control it. The lack of any clip or cleat keeping the foot in place makes it much easier to quickly put your foot on the ground, which is ideal for newer cyclists.,

Platform pedals typically have a larger surface area than other pedals, giving the cyclist plenty of room to position their foot. They also claim to be more aerodynamic than other types of pedals given their design.

Quill Pedals

These pedals almost always feature a toe clip and other straps to hold a cyclist’s foot in place while they ride. There is less of a flat surface for the cyclist to rest their foot against, as the pedal is made up of thinner pieces.

Quill pedals can be used with any kind of shoe, but they are most efficient when used with a cycling shoe with a special cleat attached. This cleat has a slot that clips onto the quill, a small protrusion from the side of the pedal. They give the cyclist much better control.

Clipless Pedals

A newer version of the bicycle pedal was developed to eliminate the need for a toe clip while still providing the same sort of control. A clipless pedal features a mechanism that connects to a special cleat on the bottom of a cyclist’s shoe.

With the cyclist’s foot firmly attached to the pedal, it’s much easier for them to have precision control over the pedals. All they have to do to free their foot is turn their heel outwards. 

Despite this, cyclists new to clipless pedals might find it difficult at first to disengage the cleat, leading to toppling over a few times before they get the hang of it.

How Bike Wheels Work

The wheels ultimately support your entire weight, but in a very interesting way. If the wheels were solid, they’d be squashed down (compressed) as you sat on the seat, and pushing back up to support you. However, the wheels of most bikes are actually formed of a strong hub, a thin rim, and about 24 highly tensioned spokes. Bicycles have spoked wheels, rather than solid metal wheels, to make them both strong and lightweight, and to reduce drag (some riders use flat “bladed” spokes or ones with an oval shape, instead of traditional rounded ones, in an attempt to cut drag even more).

Like the strands of a spider’s web, or the dangling ropes of a suspension bridge, a bike wheel is in tension—the spokes are pulled tight. Since the spokes criss-cross from the rim to the opposite side of the hub, the wheel isn’t as flat and flimsy as it appears, but actually an amazingly strong, three-dimensional structure. When you sit on a bike, your weight pushes down on the hubs, which stretch some of the spokes a bit more and others a bit less.

How Bike Gears Work

A gear is a pair of wheels with teeth that interlock to increase power or speed. In a bicycle, the pair of gears is not driven directly but linked by a chain. At one end, the chain is permanently looped around the main gear wheel (between the pedals). At its other end, it shifts between a series of bigger or smaller toothed wheels when you change gear.

A typical bicycle has anything from three to thirty different gears—wheels with teeth, linked by the chain, which make the machine faster (going along the straight) or easier to pedal (going uphill). Bigger wheels also help you go faster on the straight, but they’re a big drawback when it comes to hills. That’s one of the reasons why mountain bikes and BMX bikes have smaller wheels than racing bicycles. It’s not just the gears on a bicycle that help to magnify your pedaling power when you go uphill: the pedals are fastened to the main gear wheel by a pair of cranks: two short levers that also magnify the force you can exert with your legs.

Gears can make an incredible difference to your speed. On a typical racing bike, for example, the gear ratio (the number of teeth on the pedal wheel divided by the number of teeth on the back wheel) might be as much as 5:1, so a single spin of the pedals will power you about 10m (35ft) down the street. Assuming you can only move your legs so fast, you can see that gears effectively make you go more quickly by helping you go further for each turn of the pedals.

How Bike Brakes Work

No matter how fast you go, there comes a time when you need to stop. Brakes on a bicycle work using friction (the rubbing force between two things that slide past one another while they’re touching). Although some bikes now have disc brakes (similar to the ones cars use), with separate brake discs attached to the wheels, many still use traditional caliper-operated rim brakes with shoes.

When you press the brake levers, a pair of rubber shoes (sometimes called blocks) clamps onto the metal inner rim of the front and back wheels. As the brake shoes rub tightly against the wheels, they turn your kinetic energy (the energy you have because you’re going along) into heat—which has the effect of slowing you down.

How Bicycle Tires Work

Friction is also working to your advantage between the rubber tires and the road you ride on: it gives you grip that makes your bike easier to control, especially on wet days.

Like car tires, bicycle tires are not made of solid rubber: they have an inner tube filled with compressed (squeezed) air. That means they’re lighter and more springy, which gives you a much more comfortable ride. 

Different kinds of bicycles have different kinds of tires. Racing bicycles have narrow, smooth tires designed for maximum speed (though their “thin” profile gives them higher rolling resistance), while mountain bicycles have fatter, more robust tires with deeper treads, more rubber in contact with the road, and better grip (though being wider they create more air resistance).

Related Questions That People Asked And Their Answers

1. What Makes A Bike Stay Upright When Moving?

Bicycles are inherently stable while in motion because of their geometry. Bike geometry provides some degree of self-stability. The angle and rake of the fork produce a situation where the front tire will tend to turn into a lean, and so correct a tendency to fall to one side. The geometry causes the bicycle to always turn into the direction it begins to lean, which keeps it upright. The reason is best illustrated through a concept known as counter-steering.

2. How Can I Go Faster On My Bike?

To go faster on your bike, you can try to become more aerodynamic. You can do this by reducing air resistance or drag. For example, get your upper body down closer to your bike. That way, fewer air particles need to be pushed aside as you move forward. More so, you don’t have to pedal harder to go faster. You just have to understand a little bit about gravity, drag and friction!

3. Why Doesn’t A Bike Move Backwards When One Pedals Back?

Most bicycles have a freewheel mechanism. When pedaling forward they engage inner teeth with things called pawls. When the rider stops pedaling the bicycle will coast. This is because the teeth that the pawls engage with are ramped on one side and push the pawls up out of the way. This is the clicking sound you hear when coasting.

When you pedal backward you are really not doing anything different than coasting, at least at the freewheel mechanism, You just speed up the motion by pedaling in reverse because everything is moving in the same direction as coasting. But as soon as you start pedaling, the pawls catch the non-ramped side of the inner teeth and engage the whole hub (inner part of a bicycle wheel) and propel the bicycle

4. How Does A Bike Stopped When Its Brakes Are Applied?

A bike stops when its breaks are applied because of the frictional force acting between the brakes of the bicycle and its tyres. We are applying a force which opposes the motion of the body. This force opposes the forward motion of the body and hence bike stops. Because friction forces of taking the energy out of the forward spin of the wheel and transforming it into heat, which dissipates into the air around it.

5. Why Does Bike Begin To Slow Down When We Stop Pedalling?

A moving bike comes to rest after sometime if we stop pedalling it. By this action, the bike has been compelled to change its state of motion by the external force of air resistance and friction.